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MailTribune.com
  • I Blog Therefore I Am

  • The first local mention of a blog, or Web log, in the Mail Tribune appeared in a letter to the editor Sept. 6, 2002.
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  • The first local mention of a blog, or Web log, in the Mail Tribune appeared in a letter to the editor Sept. 6, 2002.
    The newspaper had published multiple articles about blogs prior to that, but all were written by The Associated Press and other news organizations with which the Mail Tribune shares content.
    Since 2002, blogging has become so ubiquitous that the number of blogs originating in Jackson County is probably impossible to quantify.
    "Blogs probably have hit every topic you could hit on in 2003," says Rebecca Blood, a San Francisco-based author and blogger who wrote "Weblogs: A History and Perspective."
    "There are blogs about everything."
    Blogs have permeated every aspect of life, from college experience to how entrepreneurs market their businesses.
    Locally, there are blogs about penny-pinching, politics, retirement, sewing, technology, travel — even the Faroe Islands, a territory of Denmark — among many other topics.
    "When I started in April 1999, we (bloggers) were very unique, but with the software being so easy to use and the form being so attractive, there is a blog everywhere," Blood says.
    Software for blogs, developed in May 1999, turned blogging into an activity for the masses.
    Most blogs mushroom from reading other blogs, Blood says.
    That was true for Talent resident Joseph Hunkins, a technical writer who started his blog after meeting longtime technology blogger Jeremy Zawodny, then of Yahoo, at a Las Vegas Internet conference more than three years ago.
    Hunkins had been reading Zawodny's blog, and Zawodny, who now works for Craigslist but still blogs about technology, encouraged Hunkins to blog.
    "He inspired me," Hunkins says.
    Hunkins now contributes to about a dozen blogs, mostly on Web sites he owns or co-owns.
    His personal blog, JoeDuck.com, which follows technology developments, issues and current events, receives about 20,000 hits a month.
    An average blog would draw about 1,000 to 5,000 visitors per month, Hunkins says.
    To keep readership, bloggers have to post regularly, at least three or four times a week, says Dennis Dunleavy, an associate professor of communications at Southern Oregon University, who maintains six blogs.
    One of his blogs, DennisDunleavy.com, features photos and commentary about the photo industry.
    While blogs have gained force as a communications media, there is exponentially more activity on Facebook and MySpace, Dunleavy says.
    Twitter, essentially a blog with a 140-character limit, also has gained ground recently.
    "I've noticed a tendency for bloggers to blog less and move to Twitter more," Hunkins says. "Twitter is by far the most interesting up-and-coming online environment."
    Blogging generally isn't a profession that will pay the rent — and certainly not the mortgage — because advertising opportunities are limited, Hunkins says.
    "Generally blogs make very little and are often the product of a writer's enthusiasm," Hunkins says.
    Some Jackson County entrepreneurs simply use the medium to promote their business, such as Sue Quackenbush of Central Point.
    Quackenbush uses her sewqute.blogspot.com to draw customers to her 12-year-old sewing business.
    "People said, 'You have to have a portfolio,' so I put mine on the Web site with a blog," Quackenbush says.
    In spite of the variety of blogs, most still serve to connect families and friends, Blood says.
    "As humans we are hard-wired to communicate, and blogs allow us to do that."
    Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or pachen@mailtribune.com.
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